Up to 50,000 demonstrators filled the streets of Quebec, and thousands more staged solidarity demonstrations this weekend in what has become an uprising of opposition to closed and elite international trade negotiations. The trigger of unrest was the meeting of leaders of 34 American nations in Quebec to further the ratification of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). If implemented, FTAA policies, a more extreme version of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), are likely to spread the latter's devastating effects throughout the Americas, serving the interests and privileges of capital, while the most basic rights and interests of citizens, consumers, workers and the environment are perpetually recast as "trade barriers".
An array of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), unions, grassroots groups, and concerned individuals united to voice their concerns and to disrupt the meeting. Massive demonstrations, ranging from peaceful protests to direct confrontations, took place in Quebec. Elsewhere, the US/Canadian and US/Mexican borders were blockaded for several hours.
Police reacted with heavy use of tear gas, plastic bullets, and water cannons. Legal demonstrations, such as the union march, and confrontational actions were attacked alike. Police also fired rubber bullets into the foyer of Indymedia Quebec and evicted the activists' medical centre at gunpoint. Read a report on police repression by Indymedia Quebec.
On Friday, the 10 foot high steel fence surrounding the centre of Quebec was partially demolished by protesters and was repeatedly breached over the weekend. 3.8km of fence had been put up by the authorities to make sure the meeting was not 'disturbed' by critical voices.
[ Watch it on video | Background on the fence | The Quebec Wall | Friday reports 1 | Friday reports 2 | Saturday events | Pictures of the brought-down fence | Indymedia Quebec | Indymedia San Francisco | Indymedia Washington DC | Indymedia Global links page | Photo]